Flight Instruction

Training is based on the approved certification program for the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (USHPA) but extends well beyond the USHPA minimums. Lessons emphasize fun, safety, judgment, and skills development through hands-on training, theory, and discussion.

In 4 or 5 sessions, students develop the skills necessary to launch, land and fly at training hills under the instructor's supervision . After earning a beginner rating (P1), most students will continue training and work towards a Novice rating (P2). The Novice rating prepares you to safely take to the skies on your own, but with some recommended limitations.

Midnight Sun Paragliding encourages students to pursue advanced training opportunities throughout their flying careers to enhance your safety and enjoyment. We work with some of the country's most renowned pilots and instructors such as Chris Santacroce and Jeff Farrell of Superfly Inc. Together we supply only the best flying gear and assessories as well as share new teaching techniques to enhance your skills. Since 1998 Super Fly has been the largest importer and distributor of paragliders and paragliding equipment in North America. They travel the world to identify the best brands and models for the US Paragliding population and work closely with the manufacturers that they represent in order to develop products for the US market. 

The cost of the Beginner and Novice training programs includes all lessons, instruction manual, materials, exam facilitation and quality training equipment. We also include at least one tandem flight to help accelerate your training. Additional fees will be required for membership to to USHPA and the Arctic Airwalkers Paragliding Club.

Expect training to begin on flat ground where we will concentrate on ground handling your wing, which is absolutely key to a successful flight career. Students will then progress to shallow sloped hills for your first flight. Upon mastering ground handling and simple flights, we will move up to larger mountain flights and work on your P2 skills.

Since training sessions are usually one-on-one and very seldom more than two at a time, instruction can be easily paced to the students progress. Each session will include some theory, weather discussion, skills development, demonstration and review. All in the name of having fun!

Instruction Above and Beyond

Midnight Sun Paragliding highly encourages students to purchase their own paragliding equipment early in the training program. This not only provides you with the best in paraglider technology and safety, but allows you to become familiar with your own gear, it's performance and comfort. Once you have completed all the required skills for your rating and we are 100% confident with your abilities, you are free to fly within your own abilities. Midnight Sun Paragliding will forever remain available to you to help you further your skills or advanced ratings , answer your questions and provide any needed advice or assistance with new gear.

After gaining the launching, landing, and basic flight skills, some of your training may occur over water. Relax in your harness while the powerboat-mounted, state-of-the-art winch system (see link to Towmeup.com) tows you to a modest height over the water. Release from the line and listen on the radio while the instructor teaches valuable techniques for managing your wing safely under varied conditions.

Towing over the water is considered one of the safest and most effective ways to learn flight skills.

Winter flying in Alaska can be spectacular so if you love to winter hike or ski, you can fly all winter as long as you are well prepared. Alyeska Ski Resort welcomes USHPA pilots who have met some minimum requirements. Ride the tram or chairlift to the top and fly back down over the cheering skiers and boarders all winter and during special events.

There is an increasing collective of pilots flying speed wings in South Central Alaska. These little wings offer lightweight packing opportunities and a speed rush that few can describe. If you have and interest in learning to fly speed wings, please contact us and we'll be sure to answer all your questions.

Your Instructor
Jake Schlapfer learned to paraglide in Alaska in 1995. He earned his advanced (P4) and tandem pilot ratings in 2001, and is a USHPA certified basic, advanced, and tandem paragliding instructor. He is also a USHPA observer. Jake has been instructing students with Midnight Sun Paragliding since 2004. He enjoys flying at sites worldwide, but nowhere more than Alaska. Jake's passion for the sport is contagious and he is committed to preparing students for their own safe and successful paragliding careers.

The unique geography and weather patterns in Alaska require paragliding pilots to gain familiarity with local sites and conditions.

Pilots visiting from outside Alaska often seek additional instruction and orientation while here to learn to adjust to our dynamic mountain flying, thermal activity, and local weather patterns.

Jake has the background to provide these gems of insight to help you enjoy safe and fun flying in the Great Land.

Midnight Sun Paragliding was conceived and started by life long Alaskan Phil Smith. Phil has flown all over the world and took his passion for flying and shared it with those that wanted to learn. Phil was the President of the Arctic Air Walkers and brought the first and only tow equipped boat to Alaska. Phil is currently working in Texas, but we all know his heart is here in Alaska. A helmets off salute to Phil!

See Expectations about Paragliding Flight Instruction for more details about what to expect from your flight instruction.

When to Begin
Since qualified instructors are few and lessons are quite personal, we can teach only a few students per year. Sign up early (preferably during the month of March) for the summer sessions. A 50% deposit for the beginner course will secure your spot with Midnight Sun Paragliding. Contact Jake Schlapfer at jschlapfer@yahoo.com to meet, answer questions, and get you signed up early for next season’s sessions.

Student Testimonials

My husband and I decided to learn paragliding on the spring of 2012. I was a little concerned of choosing an instructor based only on internet search, but when we met Jake I was sure we made the right choice. His passion for flying was contagious. It was also reassuring that every time we met other pilots they would speak highly about Jake and his ethics.
Now that we have our P2s, I feel like we won the lottery with Jake: he went above and beyond to teach us. Mostly important, he picked up on our different learning styles and catered to it. He gave my husband the autonomy he needed, and went over things with me as many times as I needed to feel safe and comfortable.
I recommend Midnight Sun Paragliding to anybody pursuing Paragliding.  
- Ana Kaiser

When interested in Paragliding, I called every instructor in the local area to ask several questions. Jake Schlapfer with Midnight Sun Paragliding was my immediate choice. Instructing paragliding was a passion for him, not a job. He went above and beyond the requirements of USPHA, flying me at all the sites in south-central Alaska, ensuring I had all the proper training and technique, and keeps training me after I've completed my P2 certification. All local pilots highly respect Midnight Sun Paragliding because he has 15+ years experience flying all over the world, actively involved in the PG community, and continues to teach "class A" students.  Now that I have a summer of flying experience, meeting local pilots and instructors, and seeing other students,  I will honestly say that I'd have paid Jake 10 times the price he offers. Midnight Sun Paragliding is the right choice for future students.
- Joe Kaiser

Frequently Asked Questions about Paragliding

Q. What is a paraglider?
A. A paraglider is a foot-launched, ram-air, aerofoil canopy, designed to be flown and landed with no other energy requirements than the wind and gravity.  They fit into a bag the size of a large back pack and are easily transported to your local flying site or the top of a mountain anywhere in the world.

Q. What are the main component parts of a paraglider?
A canopy (the actual "wing"), risers (the cords by which the pilot is suspended below the canopy) and a harness for the pilot to sit in. In addition, the brake lines provide speed and directional control.  Carabiners are used to connect the risers and the harness together.

Q. Is a paraglider the same thing as a parachute?
No. A paraglider is similar to a modern, steerable skydiving canopy, but different in several important ways.
The paraglider is a foot-launched device, so there is no "drouge" 'chute or "slider", and the construction is generally much lighter, as it doesn't have to withstand the sudden shock of opening at high velocities. The paraglider usually has more cells and thinner risers than a parachute.

Q. How much does a paraglider cost?
This varies between makers, models, countries, but a middle of the range canopy and harness will normally cost somewhere in the region of $3000 to $4000.  Keep in mind that there is other essential gear associated with flying such as a harness, helmet, a reserve and unlimited assessories for those that want to be stylish!

Q. How long does a paraglider last?
General wear and tear (especially the latter) and deterioration from exposure to ultra-violet light usually limit the useful lifetime of a canopy to somewhere in the region of 200 to 300 hours (several years for most folks) of airtime. This obviously depends strongly on use and care.

Q. What are Big-Ears (Rosette, A-Line Stall, Collapses)?
You don't wanna' know ...yet!

Photos courtesy of Melissa



Phone or email: Jake Schlapfer (907) 240-5420

Midnight Sun Paragliding, LLC
Jake Schlapfer, Instructor